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Author Topic: IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file  (Read 4401 times)

IainB

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IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file
What I mean is, if you find some documentation in web (html or other) form that you want to bring into yoir knowledge base and save it as a discrete document, then, if you had a facility to convert those web pages into an indexed Windows Help file, that would be very useful.

I currently use the excellent ScrapBook :Thmbsup: Add-In to Firefox :Thmbsup: to save nested web pages, which means that I have a knolwedge base containg lots of HTML stuff (bits and pieces from related web pages) stored in lots of folders, which can only be searched/read as a coherent whole via a web browser - though it can be searched and indexed by Google Desktop, so it is knowledge that is findable/accessible.

Why a Windows Help file? Because it is one of the LCDs (Lowest Common Denominators) in a Windows OS, is harmless (no risk of embedded macros or viruses), and requires no special or proprietary software to open it - apart from the OS. Also, Help files can be searched and indexed by the brilliant Google Desktop.

The old trick of printing the web pages to (say) a .PDF file would not be quite the same thing. We know how cr#ppy they can look.

There was a program called WebTwin that used to do this (I still have a free trial installation copy), and it operated on a sort of web-scraping basis. However, the people who produced it, and their website (webtwin.com), seem to have disappeared. It was quite good, and I used it to good effect (can provide a couple of examples), but as a product it seems to have remained static and gradually been made obsolete by emerging/new web technologies. There is a reference describing it here: (rainbowpcm.com/webtwin.html).

MilesAhead

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Re: IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2009, 09:37:45 AM »
There are some freeby help generators and utilities that convert a folder full of html into an index.html with a link for each page.  That sort of starts you in the direction of .chm table of contexts and index.  Try this link for a start
http://www.thefreeco.../helpauthoring.shtml

IainB

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Re: IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2009, 08:05:38 PM »
@MilesAhead
Thanks for the link. I had a look at some of these (and other) options a while back - and found nothing similar to WebTwin's ease of use and simplicity - but there may be some new developments, so I shall go over the ground again.

cmpm

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Re: IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2009, 08:45:28 PM »
This is mainly for blogging.
Buy it might do what you want.
Combining info into one format.

http://lizzer.com/

MilesAhead

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Re: IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2009, 08:54:26 PM »
I couldn't find a free dedicated tool myself that didn't leave a watermark or link, for general purpose.  The only really cool automated .chm creation tool I found was one that documented Delphi components.  You just commented at the start of each procedure and function and it put it all together.

Other than that I pretty much winged it with the MS workshop download.

The other thing that might be worth looking at is TreePad.  I've only used the Lite version but they claim html and image support in the Pro.  Not sure if it's really what you want though.

belkira

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Re: IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2009, 01:00:41 PM »
Have you looked at KEL CHM Creator?

IainB

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Re: IDEA: Convert a set of related web pages into a Windows Help file
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2009, 12:19:30 AM »
Many thanks for your helpful suggestions folks - yet another example of what a helpful forum this is.      :)

@cmpm: lizzer.com - Wow! What a powerful and nifty blogging tool! - but yes, not quite the same thing as an alternative to WebTwin.

@MilesAhead: Well, though Treepad is no simple alternative to WebTwin, it looks like a rather powerful PIM. I might look at that anyway, as I am always interested in PIMs and have been a long-standing PIM user - e.g., Info Select, which I just saw records the fact that I first registered the Info Select product in Sept. 1998! (Info Select meets my information pack rat needs.)

@belkira: I reviewed KEL CHM Creator - which looks like it will enable me to do the job, I think. It's not all that easy/simple to use, but it does look pretty useful. I think that's the closest I will probably find to WebTwin.

If anyone is interested, here's a sample of a help document as output from WebTwin - Instructions for making a home-built dynamo.HLP - and it is dowloadable from here: http://www.box.net/shared/95fe4qdhcd
(I can also make a copy of  WebTwin available if anyone is interested for historical reasons. It's obsolete really - not very effective when used with some of the current website technology. I keep a copy anyway, as I am also a software pack rat.)